Russia to begin pulling troops from Georgia today

10:52, 18 August 2008
World
552

The Russian president gave his word

Russia said it will begin pulling its troops out of Georgian territory today after the U.S. and other western countries pressed President Dmitry Medvedev to honor a cease-fire deal he signed two days ago, according to Bloomberg.

Medvedev told French President Nicolas Sarkozy by phone yesterday that Russian troops will move from Georgian areas into the pro-Moscow breakaway region of South Ossetia, the enclave that sparked the war 10 days ago. The Kremlin announced the plan in an e-mail statement yesterday.

Sarkozy, who helped broker the truce as head of the European Union, warned Medvedev of ``grave consequences`` for EU-Russia relations if full adherence to the cease-fire wasn`t ``rapid and complete,`` according to a statement from the French president`s office.

``Yet again the Russian president has given his word,`` U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday on the ``Fox News Sunday`` program. ``I hope this time he`ll honor it,`` Rice said, adding that she had talked to Sarkozy yesterday.

South Ossetia`s leader Eduard Kokoity last night dismissed his government for being ``in paralysis`` and declared a state of emergency in the region. Russian troops moved into the area on Aug. 8 to repel a Georgian attack with the help of Russian peacekeepers, who have been stationed in South Ossetia since it gained de facto independence in a war in the early 1990s.

`Without Intrigues`

``I want to create a government without intrigues,`` Kokoity said on Russian state broadcaster Vesti-24. ``Officials must work for the people, and not in their own interests.``

In the capital, Tskhinvali, bullets pockmarked most houses, and many were gutted by shelling, the result of fighting sparked by Georgia`s attempt to retake the city on Aug. 7. Electricity and water hadn`t been restored as of Aug. 16 to the few residents who remained.

There is no military action in the breakaway region now, while refugees are returning and life is ``gradually`` getting back to normal, Kokoity said.

Columns of military supply trucks and armor were crossing from Russia into South Ossetia as recently as Aug. 16. Once they depart Georgia proper, the Russians will leave behind communities that the war turned into ghost towns as tens of thousands fled their homes.

Bloomberg

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